An expansive semi-arid landscape with bales of alfalfa in the foreground and mountains and clouds at the horizon
Charlie Brummer, a long-time forage expert at the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, has been named an honorary member by the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference. (Charlie Brummer/UC Davis)

Brummer honored by alfalfa conference

E. Charles Brummer has been honored for bettering alfalfa science and cultivation by the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference. Brummer, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, is the director of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center and involved in researching a wide range of crops for forage, grain and fiber.

An agronomist by training, Brummer specializes in using both traditional breeding and genomics to improve yield and nutrition in alfalfa and other crops. Across the various plants he studies, Bummer’s overarching interest is to give farmers more options for production as they strive to feed a growing population while confronting land degradation, water scarcity and warming climate.

30 years of contributions

NAAIC president Beth Nelson wrote about Brummer:

"Dr. E. Charles Brummer has been a pillar of the alfalfa breeding community for more than 30 years. His contributions over the years include seminal alfalfa breeding research, outreach to the alfalfa breeding community, training multiple alfalfa and forage breeders, and leadership service at his places of employment and in professional societies. His alfalfa breeding research accomplishments include: developing some of the first grazing tolerant alfalfa varieties and associated understanding of this trait; creating some of the first alfalfa genetic marker linkage maps with associated QTL; proposing population hybrids in alfalfa to utilize heterosis and increase alfalfa yields; and conducting some of the first studies exploring genomic selection in alfalfa.

"Dr. Brummer has been a very productive researcher, with more than 150 peer-reviewed publications. The impact of his work can be measured by the well over 10,000 citations his work has received. His six most highly cited alfalfa works include 1) capturing heterosis in forage crop cultivar development (281); 2) developing a diploid alfalfa RFLP map (179); 3) measuring five decades of alfalfa cultivar improvement (156); 4) comparing genetic and morphological distance with heterosis in alfalfa (150); 5) measuring forage yield heterosis in alfalfa (149); and 6) applying genetics and genomics in alfalfa (140).

"Dr. Brummer’s work has also been recognized by his having received over 75 invitations to present his research, of which 20 were international invitations. He has trained numerous graduate students over the years many who have become forage breeders. He has also been a mentor to early career alfalfa researchers through his many collaborative efforts. Dr. Brummer has served as editor-in-chief of Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and associate editor of four other journals. He has been president of CSSA and served in many other leadership roles. He has been president of NAAIC and served on numerous committees and boards associated with NAAIC. 

"His leadership and research accomplishments have been recognized by his being made a fellow of CSSA and American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Dr. Brummer’s capacity to lead has also been recognized by him serving as Director of the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics at the University of Georgia; Director and Senior Vice President of the Forage Improvement Division at the Noble Foundation; and most recently his current position as Director and Professor of the Plant Breeding Center at UC Davis."


The North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference named Brummer an honorary member of the conference earlier this year at the organization’s biennial meeting. The honor is reserved for those making “outstanding contributions of alfalfa improvement” during their careers. NAAIC brings together public- and private-sector scientists and educators to promote research and exchange information about alfalfa in North America and around the world. Members’ vision embraces agronomy, breeding, genetics, pathology, microbiology, entomology, physiology and biotechnology.

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